Here’s one step Mayor Bill de Blasio can take to recover the credibility he needs to lead Gotham through the coronacrisis: fire Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza.
Not that Hizzoner should ever have hired Carranza. The race-baiting fraudster arrived from San Francisco via Houston two years ago and has since added exactly nothing positive to the city’s epically troubled public schools.
But there’s more. The death Monday of Brooklyn high-school principal Dezann Romain, from apparent coronavirus troubles, highlights the tragicomic laxity which Carranza has brought to the crisis.
Tragic because, well, Romain has died. She was the school system’s first, but will not likely be its last, casualty. And while Carranza isn’t directly responsible for her death, his approach to the pathogen itself has been appallingly irresponsible.
And here is the comic part — in a darkly bizarre sense of the word: The Post’s Susan Edelman reported Sunday that the chancellor earlier this month had ordered school officials not to report evidence of coronavirus contamination. “There is no reason for any school to call [the Department of Health] to report potential or confirmed cases,” he wrote in an e-mail to subordinates.
No reason to report? Who thinks like that? Someone lacking seriousness of purpose, an awareness of public anxiety regarding coronavirus and the skills necessary to navigate this potentially lethal crisis.
Carranza, in a nutshell.
Of course, this is true of de Blasio himself, the essential difference being that he’s the elected leader of the world’s greatest city — and not simply an unqualified hireling.
Well, at least not a hireling. And because he isn’t going anywhere, de Blasio really needs to boost his game. New York needs a mayor who will bring a resolute, disciplined presence to the crisis.
Above all, it needs a mayor who understands — to paraphrase Fiorello La Guardia — that there is no Democratic or Republican way to govern through a pandemic.
Whether de Blasio’s incessant, though barely focused, hectoring of the Trump administration is meant to distract from the incoherence of his own policies is unclear. Probably it’s just more incoherence.
He strongly resisted closing city schools, yet never credibly defended his decision to keep them open. By the end, the issue wasn’t so much public education as it was mayoral confusion. And the schools were closed anyway.
The mayor never bothered to learn if he even had the power to order a unilateral lockdown of New York City before he all but announced his intention to do so — again offering no details, no reassurances and no credible justifications.
And all of this has been peppered with one sky-is-falling caution after another. At best they have been statements of the obvious — there are supply shortages everywhere, for example, not just in New York. But mostly they have been panic-tinged expressions of weakness and despair.
“If we don’t get a supply of [respiratory] ventilators quickly, literally after a week, we won’t have enough ventilators to keep people alive,” he gasped over the weekend.
Well, yes. But, not to downplay the absence of ventilators, there’s a big difference between stating a need and citing a potential solution — Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday identified specific federal stockpiles — and inchoate pleadings.
The mayor needs to get a grip. He’s scaring people unnecessarily, and he needs to come to terms with his responsibilities.
De Blasio needs to lead, and while this clearly won’t come naturally, he can start by showing he grasps the seriousness of the crisis, but also that he understands he isn’t standing helpless before it.
Firing Carranza, while explaining that any attempt to cover up evidence of coronavirus contamination is a dereliction too far, would demonstrate that he gets it on both levels. The upside is that Carranza’s departure would be no real loss. At all.
The danger is that once having acted decisively, de Blasio will roll over and go back to sleep; the mayor is not a man troubled by a long attention span.
Still, crisis can bring out the good in the unlikeliest of characters. If ever a mayor had an opportunity to write a positive page for the history books, it’s this one.
Go for it, Blas. Take the leap and boot the chancellor.
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